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Full text of "An address, delivered before the alumni and graduating class of the University of N.C., Wednesday, June 3, 1840"

THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 




THE COLLECTION OF 
NORTH CAROLINIANA 



C373 
UK3 
iShOB 
Barringer 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



00036720904 



This book must not 
be taken from the 
Library building. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/addressdeliveredOObarr 



AN ADDRESS, 



DEI.IVETIED BEFOUE TUB 



i^lLIISSSJH iiSJ® ©IEiiIB)Wii^nS3=© ^ILj^g© 



ITITITEESITT OP U. C. 



WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 1810. 



BY DANIEL M. BARRINGER, ESQ. 



RALEIGH: 



PHIXTED AT THE OFFICE OF THE HALEIGH STAR. 



1840 

r 



/j*»r^ ^. ^ 



■7 






CORRESPONDENCE. 



,/ 



y?'^ 



Chapel Mill, June 1, 1810. 

VVc liave been appointed to tender you the ibanks of ilie Di- 
.dccLic Society, for your able Address before the Alumni and CJraduating 
Class, on yesterday morning; and lo request a copy of the same for pub- 
lication. 

Yours, vvith respect, 

T. L. AVERY, -) 

J. F. HOKE, KCommiikc. 

A. R, KELLY. S 



fo Daniel M. Carringer, Esq. 



Gentlemen: 



Universitv of N. C, 
June Ith, 1840. 



•i 



i 



I have received this morning your note requesting, V' t S- 
on behalf of the Dialectic Society, a copy of the Address delivered by V_^\ 
me on yesterday morning before tho Alumni and Graduating Class, with 
the expiKJssion of a desire that it may be published. I feel a sincere diffi- 
dence in yielding to the request of the Society: but if it be regarded as 
containing any valuable or useful suggestion, worthy of public conside- 
ration, the Society is at liberty to make such disposal of the Address as 
in its sound, discretion it may think proper. 

Permit me, gentlemen, through you to tender to the Society whose 
humble organ I have been, my grateful acknowledgments for the gene- 
rous but undeserved partiality which it has manifested towards me: And 
please accept for yourselves my thanks for the polite and courteous man- 
ner in which you have expressed to me the wishes of your Society. 
With assurance of my sincere esteem, 

j 1 am, gentlemen, 

'"■-,^_ _ -Your friend and ob'l. serv't, 

D. M. JARRING ER, 
To Thomas L. Avery, ) 

John F. Hoke, C Cvmmiilcc, 
Angus R. Kelly. S 




£^I5)m)IBl^g)t^o 



^ 



Gentlemen Alumni of the University: 

We are again assembled on this classic ground. 
How vivid and endearing are the rcminiscencies of earlier 
life that crowd upon our memories! How gratefully joyous 
the greetings of friends, whom congenial pursuits had bound 
together amid these temples of science and learning, while 
we were yet strangers to a world whose corroding cares, sor- 
did passions and empty vanities could not reach to destroy 
the affections we then so ardently cherished ! We have met 
to renew and confirm these youthful friendships; to brighten 
and strengthen the links that enchained our young hearts to- 
gether. We have met here to enjoy the sweet reverie which 
springs from the hallowed associations of this sacred spot : to 
look once more on the venerable oaks, and linger once again 
in the consecrated groves, where the genial sun of science 
first illumined our mental vision; to recur to the thrilling in- 
cidents of a season 

" When life itself was new, 
«' And the heart promised what ihe fancy drew"; 
and to commune, in fond recollection, of the gavdia ccrta- 
7)iinis, not indeed of the debasing strifes of an envious rival- 
ry, but of the generous strugsfles and lofty emulations of 
that intellectual v/arfare whose holy aim was to dignify the 
mind — ennoble the Iieart — and prepare us for the high pur- 
poses of our being. Here, too, the spirit of association will 
trace on the pages of memory the images of those who. pil- 
grims of different climes and countries, have been dispersed, 
by the vicissitudes of fortune, throughout the length and 
breadth of the earth — will repeat, with the pensiv'e harmony 
of the songs of other days, the merry sounds of voices that 
have been hushed forever in the silence of the tomb. It will 
remind us of bright hopes that have been shrouded in the 
oblivion of an early grave,, and the warm gushings of glad 



hoctiis that liave long ceased to palpilute forever, it will teU 
us, too, of otheTs. who have opened the career of Hfe, and. 
like inetcorS; have blazed for a while in the circles of their in- 
iliiencc, and then disappeared forever; or, more unfortunate 
stiil, have sunk, by their own folly, weakness and inability to 
withstand the shocks and injuries of fortune, into the depths 
of an inglorious obscurity. It will remember us, again, of 
others, who have always kept their weapons bright — whose 
fortitude has been undismayed — whose integrity of purpose 
has prevailed against the temptations of life — who have 
pressed forward to the prize of their high calling, and "climb- 
ed the steep where fame's proud temple shines afar" — thus 
realizing the fond expectations of early friends — banishing 
the trembling anxieties of parental solicUude — ^rewarding the 
untiring devotion of kind instructors — and fulfilling the just 
claims of their country's need. 

We are here also, gentlemen, in our annual pilgrimage to 
these shrines of literature, to bear testimony to the progress- 
ive prosperity of our beloved Alma Mater; and to give en- 
couragement to the guardians of her welfare, not only to 
maintain the high character she has already acquired in the 
estimation of our common country, but to stimulate new ex- 
ertions in her behalf, that she may be placed on a basis which 
shall not be shaken by the tides of false prejudice or unfore- 
seen adversity: so that, for all time to come, she may contin- 
ue to be a beacon-light from which shall be radiated through- 
out the whole limits of our wide-spread domain, the pure 
beams of knowledge and of truth. 

We are here too, to look upon and cheer, by our presence, 
the ingenuous efforts of young minds that may hereafter soar 
with eagle's wings into the loftiest regions of fancy and phi- 
losophy; and to witness the imposing and interesting ceremo- 
ny of ushering upon the untried scenes of practical life, a 
class of youthful soldiers of learning, about to engage in the 
business and assume the responsibilities of manhood. And 
1 hope, young gentlemen of the Senior Class, you will par. 
don here the expression of our gratification in a knowledge 
of the fact that yours is a class equally distinguished in the 



"iiiials of oiiv Commcr.ccmcnts. for tlic niiml'cr ?ud talent oi 
Its members. 

The limit which marks tlio entrance of yontli upon man- 
liood; has been signahzed in every nation by some conspicu- 
ous distinction, either of Icpffil authority or vohmtary cele- 
bration. The German youth of the age of Tacitus, upon its 
arrival, was solemnly presented witli a shield and a spear, 
in the presence o{ the chiefs and the valiant of tl;e land. 
The youthful Roman, in the open forum, surrounded by the 
assembled citizens, was invested with the robo of manhood. 
So, on this occasion, in accordance with a senlimcnl so natu- 
ral, and in analogy to a custom so universal, wo have assem- 
bled in the presence of the Vv'iso, the learned, the beautiful, 
the accomplished and honorable of the land, to cheer your 
first entrance on the great theatre of human life, armed, no! 
indeed with the " scutian fraincaqnc," after the m.anner of 
the rude chivalry o( the ancient German, or the sword and 
buckler of the warlike Scandinavian, nor clad with the - to- 
g(2 virlUs''' of the idolatrous Roman; but defended with the 
unstained armour of an intellectual panopl^^, and clothed in 
the unspotted robes of scientific truth., whitened and purified 
by the mild influences of the Christian age in which Vv'elive. 
To you, young gentlemen, it is the most important crisis in 
the eventful lives upon the duties of vdiich you are about to 
engage. It is the shore which divides the land on which 
you have remained in easy security, under the safe and re- 
straining protection of parents, guardians and instructors, 
from that perilous ocean of life, on v/hose tumultuous bil- 
lows you are now to launch your untried barks, fraught u-ith 
the dearest interests and highest hopes of human existence. 

And we, gentlemen Alumni, have thrown aside, lor a sea- 
son, the grovelling concerns of worldly strife — desisted from 
the vain and exciting struggles of human ambition — and 
come up to this high festival, not merely to enjoy the pure 
and tranquil pleasures of a literary bancjuet, so exojuisitely 
prepared by the masters of the feast; not merely to catch the 
subduing inspirations and dwell on the sv.'eet mementos of 
the place; not only to establisli the relations of youthful 



friendship, to renew the vows that were made in our early 
devotions at the altars of literature, and to stimulate and en- 
courage those who are to come after us, and are now being 
ushered through the ceremonies of tliis occasion, on the bu- 
sy stage of life. These, agreeable, and laudable, and noble 
as they are, should not be the only incentives for our annual 
visitations to this venerable seat of learning. We have a 
higher motive. We have a sacred duty to perform. We 
have been voyagers, for greater or less periods, on this tem- 
pestuous ocean. We have been tossed on the swelling waves 
of its bosom — we have acquired some knowledge of its dan- 
gers, its Scyllas and Charybdis, its tempests and whirlpools. 
We have returned again to the haven whence, too, our barks 
were launched on its boundless surface. Combining the ex- 
perience of the past with our knowledge of the present, we 
may claim to bestow some reflections on the future. Under 
such circumstances, it becomes our duty not only to form for 
ourselves new resolutions of perseverance in rectitude — to 
stimulate virtue and warn against vice; but also to point out 
to others, our successors, the paths of duty and of honour; 
to guard them against the temptations and allurements by 
which they are encompassed; and to supplicate them to be 
steadfast in the performance of the obligations to themselves, 
their country and their God, by which their own happiness 
and renown shall be secured — the nation's welfare establish- 
ed — and the only true purpose of human existence fulfilled 
in bliss throughout the countless ages of eternity. 

Deeply impressed with a sense of this duty which we owe 
to ourselves, Gentlemen Alumni, and to you. Gentlemen of 
the Senior Class, and to those whom our cherished Alma 
Mater is annually sending forth to engage in the great busi- 
ness of life, in the further prosecution of the objects of this 
Address, I would submit, for your consideration, some reflec- 
tions on the influence and duties of educated men in the 
United States: a subject, equally interesting to such of them 
as have past, as to those who are standing on the threshold 
of life. 

If an earnest desire to yield to the unexpected request of 



9 

the Society, of which I have been made the organ in address- 
ing you on the present occasion,, has induced me to resist the 
sincere difFidence and iinallected reluctance I entertained in 
attempting to appear in a place lliat has been adorned by the 
graces of eloquence and the lessons of mature wisdom, then 
I may claim the indulgent favour of those of whom 1 am the 
undeserving instrument. And if an humble soldier in the 
cause of learning, untrained to literary exercise, has consent- 
ed to stand upon the ground where giants m literature have 
stood before, with an anxious wish to add something to an 
entertainment which is interesting to all, and a mite of in- 
struction that has been gathered in the brief intervals allow- 
ed from the constant occupation of more active pursuits 
which engross his lime, then he who has been called to 
address them may reasonably ask the charitable indulgence 
of this enlio-htened audience, and /looe to mitisfate therio-our 
of their critical severity. 

By educated 7nen, we mean, not only those Vv^ho devote 
their lives to the pursuits of literature, but all who have en- 
joyed and improved the opportunities of storing their minds 
with science and knowledge that may be employed in the prac- 
tical concerns of life, and the advancement of the great in- 
terests of society — the learned of every profession, and the 
disciples of science, as well as t!ie poet, the historian, the 
scholar and the philosoplier. The influence of educated 
men, as thus understood, has been immense, in every nation, 
on all the multipled interests of society. Luther and his as- 
sociates accomplished the most important revolution ever 
effected by human agency. The eloquence of Burke saved 
his country from scenes of blood, rapine and massacre. The 
genius of Scott changed and controlled the taste of an age. 
The historic records of the world abound with examples to 
prove the efficacy of an influence which must be obvious to 
all— and too plain to need their illustration. The few ex- 
ceptions that are furnished by the power of unassisted genius 
but serve to illustrate, not to weaken our position. And in 
regard to these, it may be remarked, that though denied the 
opportunities of public instruction, such persons have always 

2 



10 

odticated themselves by thorough application in private; and 
have always lamented the want of that early mental disci- 
pline winch is found to be essential to draw out the energies 
of intellect to the full extent of its capacity. If the Demos- 
thenes of America was indeed '-forest born," how much 
mightier would have been his influence, and more enduring 
his fame, had he been endowed with the cultivated gifts of 
the immortal Grecian Orator. 

That '-knowledge is power," has acquired the force of an 
axiom. The eflbrts ot intellectual power will manifest them- 
selves in outward facts. Genius will mould the thoughts of 
others in the model itself has formed, and leave its impress 
on the character of the age. But its fruits are not all matur- 
ed in one age. They are enjoyed by posterity. Thebes 
was laid in ashes, but Pindar lives: and the memory of Troy- 
will be eternized in the immortality of Homer. The influ- 
ence of knowledge is felt on the moral, social and political 
relations of men. It is the stay of virtue — it chastens the 
affections, and is the only safe basis cf the best form of go- 
vernment the wit of man has ever devised. While, on the 
other hand, it may be instrumental in promoting vice — in a- 
rousing into action the worst passions of our nature, and in 
kindlino; the fires of destruction to the whole fabric of soci- 
ety. In a political aspect, its influence is boundless for good 
or tor evil. The Revolution which desolated the fair fields 
of France — made her plains to overflow with rivers of 
blood — and converted into a demon of ruin the goddess of 
liberty, at whose shrine she professed to worship, was the re- 
sult not merely of the perverted power of the ignorant and 
the vile. These were the instruments of superior minds — the 
poet, the orator, the divine. Those whose harps should have 
been tuned to melodies of sacred \irtue — whose eloquent lips 
should have inculcated the lessons of true wisdom — the bea- 
con-lights whose constant and pure radiance should have 
guided the vessel of State through the storms and whirlwinds 
which endangered the republic, became the baleful meteors 
whose lucid flashings but ser\ed to produce confusion tmd 
disorder, disease and death ! 



11 

The inflnence of educated men is increased by the cliar- 
acter of the times, in which it is our destiny to liv'(\ Great 
events are on the winof, castinjx their sliadowsbetbre. Great 
events will brino- out and require great talents to direct theni. 
Civilization is yielding its precious (ruits. The spirit of en- 
({u'wy is abroad, and the march of mind is onward. JMcn 
thirst for knowledge. An unparallelled impetus is given to 
the means of its acquisition. Nev; Aicilities are afforded for 
its communication, and new motives for its universal difhi- 
sion. Behold the stupendous triumphs of science and of art 
over the very elements of nature: the magical effects of steam 
and machinery, of which, extraordinary as they are on the 
destinies of man. it n)ay be said now, as was said more than 
a quarter of a century since, tliat "they are perhaps only 
now beginning to be felt." Witness, too, the potent energies 
of the press, in a thousand forms, scattering, as witti the 
hands of a divinity, over the whole surface of the earth, the 
seeds of knowledge, of learning and religion. The mysteries 
of science are not hid in the seclusion of the closet, nor eru- 
dition buried in oblivion except to the few. The facilities 
of mutual intercourse blend together the thoughts and the 
intprests of society. Mind is brought into constant collision 
with mind. The leaven of its influence is penetrating the 
mass. It is no longer confined to the circles of privileged or- 
ders — no longer absorbed by the abstractions of the schools, 
or limited to the disquisitions of metaphysical incjuiry. Her 
fetters have been broken, and knowledge walks abroad in lier 
true dignity, upholding the banners of benevolence and phi- 
lanthropy — asserting the dominion of man over nature — 
looking to the feelings, the hopes, the wants, the substantial 
benefit of mankind, and pointing out to all the only true 
roads to human happiness and fame. In this era, too, we 
stand on the accumulated wisdom of ages. The scholar 
steps forth into the arena of life with a mind stored with the 
riches of the past — and covered with an armour prepared by- 
all ages. He may select, from the extensive magazine in 
which he stands, all the weapons and engines that may be 
necessary or useful in the vast field of his labours. 



12 

But, if this be a peculiar age, ours is a peculiar country. 
While all the causes to which we have alluded are combined 
liere to lend power to human knowledge, and give influence 
to educated men, others are superadded, wiiich contribute in 
the most eminent degree to increase that influence and en- 
hance that power. They grow out of the nature of our in- 
stitutions. The people are the rulers — " the first estate.'' 
Their sovereignty is the fundamental principle in theory and 
practice. It is the "law of laws." It is recognized by all 
our usages and proclaimed by our constitutions; and its con- 
sequences are disseminated and felt in all the afl'airs of socie- 
ty. E-ejecting the despotic pretensions of the few, our sys- 
tem is based on the rightlul authority of the many. Perfect 
freedom of thought and of action, unrestricted but by the 
conditions the people themselves have imposed, is enjoyed to 
its fullest extent. "We are, too, a new people, not bound 
down by the opinions of the Old AYorld. The dazzling fas- 
cinations of aristocracy have been blotted out. The multi- 
tude no longer gaze in fear and wonder on a lofty order of 
perpetual pretension and hereditary arrogance, treading the 
upper air — overshadowing the rights of the people — and 
leaving on the mass no impression of their foot-prints. The 
inequalities of the Baron and Serf communities of continen- 
al Europe are unknown among us. We need no longer look 
to the corrupt and exploded systems of the monarchical dy- 
nasties of the Old World, for imitation and example. The 
pageantry of conventional pomp and princely pride has van- 
ished. The horizon is cleared; and men stand forth in the 
only true dignity of human nature, blessed with no wealth 
that is not the reward of that honest labour which is the in- 
heritance of man — and signalized by no distinction which 
genius, and worth, and virtue do not bestow. Equality is 
the great feature of our social and political theory; not that 
absolute equality which confines to the same level the diver- 
sified gifts of men — annihilates the chances of time ar.d fate 
. — and blends into one mass of assimilation all the various 
conditions which are inevitable in every state of nature and 
structure of society; but that glorious equality of privilege 



13 

and of ri^bt, which freely opens to all wlio may desire to en- 
ter the ways of liononr, fortune, place and power; that un- 
yielding- equality which ahows the same right, and subjects 
to the same haw, the President of a great nation and the hum- 
ble tenant of a cottage. 

This broad basis on which we have built, as upon a rock, 
the foundations of our system, is not only endeared to us by 
the beneficent results of our own experience, but comes re- 
commended by the sanctions of the highest authority, human 
and divine. It was taught by the Apostles and their Divine 
Master. It was the day-star that pioneered the revival of 
learning and civihzation in Europe. The hnal triumph of 
the Reformation gave it a palpable and living existence. The 
Magna Charta of our independence proclaimed it to the world 
as a self-evident truth. And the principle was established 
in the plenitude of its power, as a fact and a practice, by the 
ever-memorable achievement of the American Revolution. 
If the seed which was sown has been of slow growth, the 
tree of liberty in its maturity has afforded the most ample 
foliage ior the protection of all. May we cherish the fond 
hope that its boughs shall overspread the earth, and its ric[i 
fruit refresh all nations! 

How great must be the influence, and how bright the anti- 
cipations, of the educated man, under such a system of free 
institutions! A system which ensures and protects the ex- 
ertion of every faculty, and under the impulses of which he 
may dare do any thing, and dare hope any thing tijat may 
become a patriot and a scholar ! 

But, the educated man is still furnished with another le- 
ver, under our form of govern n.ent. which he may wield for 
good or for evil on the destiny of the country. Public opin- 
ion is that lever — the opinion of numbers — the declared sense 
of the njajority. Whether it be a tyrant, as charged by one 
of the most philosophic of foreign writers on the customs 
and institutions of America, it is not to our purpose to dis- 
cuss — we speak of it as a fact. It is of the basis of our sys- 
tem — the siite qua non of republican government. It is the 
arbiter of sentiment and of action. Its umpirage is decisive 



14 

on t!ie morals — the habits — the literature of the nation. It 
is the mirror which reflects the national character of the peo- 
ple. In politics, as expressive of tlie general will of the peo- 
ple, through the forms they may establish or annul, it is the 
supreme law — the Mount Sinai of our country. It is (he ut- 
terance of that sovereignty whose determination, however 
sudden, and whose edict, however harsh, when clearly pro- 
nounced, are obligatory upon all, and exact immediate and 
unqualified submission from all who remain in the pale of its 
authority. The civil constitutions we have erected are but 
modes of expression of the popular will, which circum- 
scribes and directs, by the established lor^us it has assumed, 
all the functions of government. The multiplied power of 
the press — an almost perfect community of language — our 
ready facilities of intercourse — the investigating and excita- 
ble spirit of our people — and the abiding interest they natu- 
rally feel in the welfare of a nation that "governs itself for 
itself" — give to public opinion a rapidity of manifestation un- 
exampled in the history of the world. The shock that af- 
fects the extremity, electrifies every part of the body politic. 
The deep thought or bold truth that breaks the centre of tlie 
circle, is borne with the resistless current of a tide to every 
portion of the circumference. 

But, this public opinion is not an automaton ; nor can it 
create itself. The means that produce and controul it, will, 
under proper influences, necessarily be, to a very great ex- 
tent, in the hands of the educated men of our country. Ge- 
nius and talent will create, as well as direct, the atmosphere 
in which they live. The positions which educated men must 
occupy in a community so favourable to the promotion of 
knowledge, and the pursuit of the learned professions^ which 
are filled from their ranks, cannot fail to invest them with a 
commanding influence. If this be true of all the professions, 
it is more especially so of the profession of the law. The 
members of this profession acquire, by daily and practical ob- 
servation, an intimate acquaintance with the individual and 
social relations and. interests of men, in every condition of 
life — their motives of action and the objects of their pursuit. 



15 

The study of the law necessarily involves a knowledge of 
our constitutions and forms of orovernnent: and when pur- 
sued w]tli a proper and congenial spirit, is eminently calcu- 
lated to enlarge, elevate and liberalize our social views. Ev- 
ery rational system of law being favourable to all ideas of jus- 
tice and propriety, the members of this profession have al- 
ways been first to apply rational principles to forms of civil 
government. And, as they have been led to study the rights 
of individuals, and apply to them doctrines of equity, they 
have glided most naturally to a consideration of the rights 
of communities and the proper ndjustment of political pow- 
er. Hence, while they have ever stood in the front rank of 
the advocates of public liberty, they have always been the 
friends of public order. The whole history of our govern- 
ment, irom its earliest organization, abounds with examples 
of their influence — their labours — their sacrifices — their de- 
votion to the best interests of their country. 

I am aware that an unjust prejudice against this profession 
is fostered from interested motives, by a few — and entertain- 
ed through the ignorance of many But, certainly, before 
this enlightened audience it cannot be required to defend a 
science which, in the language of its great teacher, "em- 
ploys in its theory the noblest faculties of the soul, and ex- 
erts in its practice the cardinal virtues of the heart" — or to 
vindicate a profession that has been adorned by the genius, 
and illustrated by the virtues, of a Hale — a Mansfield — a 
Marshall — and a splendid galaxy of others, who have illu- 
mined with vestal fire the temples of justice, and ever stood 
faithful sentinels on the watch-towers of liberty. 

Such, then, gentlemen, is the age. and such the country. 
in which you are called to act your respective parts in the 
great drama of life ; a drama, too, in which real action^ and 
not njere display, or the dreaius of a barren philosophy, is 
required by the spirit of the country and the a^e. The mio:hty 
influence you do or can exert, whether individually or col- 
lectively, whether by precept or exan;:ple, involves the most 
serious responsibilities. It is the talent committed to your 
keeping, not indeed to be hid in the earth, nor even to be re- 



16 

tHrned with usury, but to he accounted for with a profit of an 
hundred fold. It is a respoijsibihty of the deepest moment 
to ourselves — to our country and posterity. What, then, are 
the duties, by the performance of which this solemn obliga- 
tion is to be discharofed? To us all, and to you especially, 
vounw- ofentlemen, whom the exercises of another day will 
deprive of the advantacres, as well as free from the restraints, 
of this institution, this is an inquiry of the most lasting- im- 
portance. The limits of this Address will not permit more 
than an allusion to some of the prominent duties of educated 
men in our country. More mature reflection will serve to 
impress the hints that are now thrown out, as well as to sug- 
i^est others deserving your consideration. 

The great object of education being to fit us for the exi- 
i2;encies of life, it must be based on a system which, under 
the prudent guidance of the best instruction, shall most suc- 
cessfully evolve the mental, social, and moral qualities of 
our natures; v.'hich, while it disciplines the mind to habits of 
study and speculation, shall, at the same time, be best calcu- 
lated to render it practically useful; a system which, in the 
language of a profound writer, "shall combine theoretical 
knowledge with practical judgment, and unite refinement of 
taste with energy of character." Such a system, we have 
reason to believe, is satisfactorily taught in the course at this 
University. But, you should ever remember, that to be grad- 
uated is one thing— to be educated is another; that here you 
have acquired but the rudiments of knowledge, and laid the 
foundation on which the superstructure of learning and util- 
ity is afterwards to be reared. Wlien brought into contact 
with the world, the habits of mental and moral discipline to 
which you have here been accustomed, are to be constantly- 
cultivated and kept in lively exercise. This duty is indis- 
pensable to the formation of a just character for yourselves — 
to render you either useful and efficient, or distinguished in 
life— to promote and dignify the cause of education itself — • 
to advance that grade of elevated scholarship of which there 
are as yet so few examples in our country — to ensure suc- 
cess and lend grace to the efforts of talent, in professional and 



[xiblic employiiicnt -and to repress the vonity of tiiat self 
conceited learninn; wliicli is both eoiitomptiblc in itself and 
fatal to further progress in improvement. It is essential, al- 
so, to your own happiness. Ivnowledge is desirable for its 
own sake. Should you be unable to withstand the rude pre- 
judices that mav encounter your path — to overcome the root 
ed iiostilities of the world — and to ward off the envy and de- 
traction which the p:lory of genius itself may create, remem- 
ber still that knowledge is not without its own reward. If 
it be your lot to sink beneath the waves of fortune, ratlier 
than swim smoothly on her placid currents, you will still 
have the felicity to feel that you can retire to the solitude of 
the scholar, and feast upon the pure and enduring riches of 
a treasure, wliich, if the world cansiot give, it can neither 
take away. Let it not be said, that the emergencies of lite 
will leave no time for literary pursuits, or the attainment of 
literary excellence. The allegation is answered by the whole 
history of science and of letters. Franldin became the ex- 
;implar of the wisdom of his age, amid the drudgery of im- 
nvoidable labour and the anxieties of official station. The 
constant discharge of public emplo'/ment, preying on the in- 
firmities of an enfeebled constitution, left time to Sir William 
Jones to become the most accomplished scholar of his day. 
And the most imperishable productions of the most eloquent 
of the Romans, were the fruits of his leisure from the urgent 
duties of life. 

The great cause of popular education, witii the spirit of 
which our people are beginning to be thoroughly imbued, 
will, in an especial manner, deserve and demand the support 
and encouragement of the educated men in America. A- 
mong the many appellations by which this era has been char- 
acterized, it has been called the " age of education." It will 
be your duty to give new impulse and increased energy to 
the benign spirit by which it is distinguished; to extend to 
all, the blessings which you so highly prize. Let public ed- 
ucation be as common as republican principles, and let 
knowledge reach every home, that men may be wiser — bet- 
ter and happier. If there be one truth better established than 

3 



IS 

anjtlier by tlio exparieuce oi Miinkiiid, it is, that republican 
liberty cuiiiot be maintained by an ignorant and vicious 
oin.LMinily. And if the triteriess of the truism that "mor- 
ality and inteliiijfencc are t!ic only sure basis of our govern- 
ment," has net effaced its deep importance from your minds, 
S-irely t!ie spirit of patriotism cannot be indifferent to the 
sa:;cessfu! prog-ress of a cause whicli is identified with the ex- 
istence of liberty itself. The imperious necessity of a duty 
so palpable in itself, cannot require, with educated men, the 
power of an argument to enforce it — or the language of en- 
treaty to secure its faithful observance. 

The literature of America is entirely dependent on her edu- 
cated men. They must originate, controul and givejt charac- 
t ;r. I'hai we have noliterature,is often contemptuously charg- 
ed upon us by other nations: that we have attained as a people 
no conimanding excellence in this department, must be ad- 
mitted by ourselves. Though stars of great brilliancy have 
occasionally appeared in our sky, yet few, if any, have be- 
come so fixed in the firmament as certainly to attract the ad- 
miration of all fu'ure ages. But we are not to be reproach- 
ed for neglect of the past. If we have filled no niche in the 
t :mple of literature, it is because her avenues have been clos- 
ed by the urgent necessities of a new social condition. If 
we have heretofore had no literary cla?:s, it is because the ge- 
nius and talent of the country have been drawn by the exi- 
gencies of our situation into other and more tempting chan- 
nels. It is true, that with the manners and civilization of 
the mother country, our stern and adventurous forefathers 
Su'ought to the new world something of the literature of the 
old: that they possessed an intellectual vigour, and a degree 
of intelligence eminently calculated to encounter the dan- 
gers of a foreign shore, and to erect a home for the peaceful 
enjoyment of that individual prosperity and religious free- 
dom of which they were deprived by the oppressions of the 
father-land. If the wish of the philosopher, " that all record 
of past events had been blotted out," could have been grati- 
fied, still the primitive emigrants would have formed a gov- 
ernment marked by the wisdom of being adapted to a high 



19 

state of social condition. But, the flowers ot literature had 
no attraction for them. Having borne on their shoulders the 
mantles of Hampden and Sydney, they had but little taste or 
occasion for the beauties of Addison and Tenij>!e. Colonial 
dependence neither excited the ambition nor creiitcd the ne- 
cessity of competing-, by original production, against tlie su- 
perior advantages of their more favoured brethren. The in- 
dependence of America, while it removed these ol)st;icie'~^, 
opened new dilliculties scarcely less formidable to the suc- 
cess of a national literature. The fields of adventure, of en- 
terprize and of politics, invited and encfrossed the labours of 
all. Our National and State Constifutioiis were to be estab- 
lished — the experiment of self-government to be essayed — 
national prosperity to be secured — commerce to be prosecu- 
ted — foreign enemies to be met — our resources to be devel- 
oped—the unexplored wilderness to be felled and appropria- 
ted — our fi\rms to be cultivated — our daily bread to be earn- 
ed — the professions to be filled — and the means of acquiring 
individual wealth to be devised and pursued. All these ob- 
jects we have accomplished — and effected, too, in a manner 
that has commanded the respect and won t'le admiration of 
the world. Is it strange, then, that amidst the constarjt de- 
mands for the business of the moment, we have had no leis- 
ure for distinction in literature? No, gentiemei;, we have 
achieved glory enough in the short space of half a century, 
to wipe out the stigma of not being a literary people. But 
the times are changed. We have become a rcadins' and a 
thinking people. While profound learning has either re- 
mained stationary or diminished, general knowledge has in- 
creased. Its rudiments are more widely disseminated than 
in any other country of similar extent. The public presp, 
much as its power has been abused, has an influence une- 
qualled in any other nation. It will be the duty of educated 
men to chasten and refine the national taste ; to elevate, a- 
mong all classes, the standard by wliich the popular mind is 
to be judged. If our literature heretofore may be compared 
to the infancy of man, for its love of imitation — its wayward 
curiosity— its restless and unwearied activity — its playful- 



20 

ness of fancy — its fondness for easy reading and the toys of 
learning, it should now assume the manly — the grave — the 
sohd, energetic character of manhood, suited to the nature of 
our republican institutions. It will be your duty to purify 
the press of its corruptions — its gross scurrility — its violent 
defamation — as humiliatiijg to the patriot as they are injuri- 
ous to public morals. It will be your duty to strip false elo- 
quence of its unmeaning bombast — its multiplicity of words 
without ideas — and of its hollow pretensions. And ever re- 
member, that to be truly eloquent with the tongue or the pen ; 
to give power to truth, and persuade men to its adoption ; to 
disarm vice; to invigorate public virtue, and confirm private 
morals — your efforts must flow from a mind and a heart deep- 
ly imbued with the principle of the great master of eloquence, 
nefaiuriun qnidem oratorem^ nisi bonnnt vlnuii. It is your 
duty to prepare yourselves for these hio-h purposes, by the 
unremitting study of the best, purest and most chaste mod- 
els, ancient and modern — by that thorough education which 
forms the habits of reflection through the close ordeal of sci- 
entific research — and that which subdues the feelings to the 
most rigid test of virtuous principle. 

VYc would have the literature of America to be independ- 
ent — to be American — American in its subjects, its sympa- 
thies and its tendencies; not that we would have genius to 
know a party, or literature establish a commonwealth; not 
that we should refuse to drink from the pure fountain of 
learning, wherever to be found, or embellish v/ith her flow- 
ers and adorn with her gems, wherever to be gathered; or 
that we should abandon forever the fields that are enriched 
v.dth the golden harvest of centuries. But, the labours of 
authorship should be directed and adapted to tb.e situation — 
the wants — the feelings and spirit of our people and cliarac- 
ter of our institutions. Such works can only be produced by 
those who have lived among us, and been nurtured by our 
institutions. How much have we been misrepresented, and 
our national character degraded, by the writings of foreign- 
ers, whose opportunities for correct information were as limi- 
ted as their national bigotry was inveterate. That the lite- 



21 

rature of America will ultimately attain the highest excel- 
lence, we have an abiding faith. "What nobler materials can 
be found for the creations of fancy, or tiie philosophy of his- 
tory.^ \Viiere has the abundance of nature exhibited scenes 
richer in beauty and sublimity than in the forests of Ameri- 
ca !- What history furnishes a theme n:ore romantic in inci. 
dent — more iuiposing in character' — move philosophic in con- 
templation — more illustrative of prudence in victory, and 
fortitude in disaster — than the eveiitful epoch of the Ameji- 
can Revolution? What theatre has displayed, in bolder re- 
lief, the rapidity of human success, and tlie grandeur of a 
salf-goveri:iing people, than the triumphant career of Ameri- 
can greatness I The native talent of our educated sons must 
polish these diamonds, and place them in the diadem that 
shall decorate the brow of American literature. If freedom 
be the first step to curiosity and knowledge, then we have 
surmounted the greatest difficulty: and the way is cleared 
for the onward march of the educated men of America to 
that proud eminence, whence the fame of her future Irvings 
in literature, shall shine as pure and as brilliant as that of 
her illustrious Washington in arms. 

Vv"e have seen that the influence of educated men is not 
confined to the secluded walks of literature, or the quiet 
haunts of poetry, to the advancement of science, and promo- 
tion of good morals; but it is felt on all the public interests 
of society. Their ranks are. thronged with the legislators 
and statesmen, whose wisdom is to enlighten the councils of 
the nation, and whose virtue is to secure her happiness and 
renown. While we would warn them to beware of the syren 
fascination of political life — its insatiable desires — its un- 
ceasing disquietudes — its airy hopes, that vanish in the grasp, 
as the vapours of a morning, yet we cannot suppose that ed- 
ucated men will be indifferent to the prosperity of a country 
whose glory and welfare are identified with their own — 
whose laws are of her own enactment — and whose institu- 
tions, the reward of the noblest valour and costliest sacrifice^ 
are to be preserved and perpetuated by the vigilance of those 
lor v/hose benefit they are established, and by whose apathy 



22 

thc7 may be destroyed. If the voice of tliat country require 
rheir services, their duty will be to respond to the summons. 
It is their duty to prepare themselves to promote her true in- 
terests, by a deep and studious reflection on her history^ — ^lipr 
constitutions and laws — her resources — the wants^ — the hab- 
its—the spirit of her people — the dangers to which we are 
exposed, as well as the rich prospects that invite us. 

I will not trespass on your patience, if 1 even had the pow- 
er to delineate the high duties of those who aspire to preside 
at the helm of our destinies, or assist in their guidance. But, 
there are certain bold landmarks of duty, which should nev- 
er be obliterated, and certain principles of conduct that only 
can lead us in safety. 

Political favour is a reward from the people: the forms of 
the social compact is the work of the people. They are the em- 
anations of that sovereignty whose voice is expressed by pub- 
lic opinion. To obtain this favour, or instil sound princi- 
ples, the political aspirant and the advocate of truth, must 
appear, in some way or other, before that tribunal which is 
dreadful to many, but need be to none who have conscious 
integrity and rectitude of purpose. 

Now, public opinion may be and often is wrong — and the 
wonder is, that it is not oftener in error, beset as it is by a 
thousand deceptions. When we believe it has erred, or is 
likely to err, we should be bold to say so. We should be the 
defenders of Truth — and speak without fear what we believe 
to be true. We should plant ourselves on the eternal prin- 
ciples of justice- -of right and of wrong — uphold the truth, 
and defend the right. There must be no cringing, and 
flattery — no mean servility in our intercourse with the peo- 
ple. Be ambitious to deserve, rather than obtain success^ — to 
seek that popularity which follows — not that which is run 
after. Eschew, as you would the leprosy, the vile arts of the 
demagogue — the parasites and sycophants, who, to flatter a 
popular weakness, or pander to a popular prejudice, would 
undermine every established institution — and amidst the most 
solemn professions of patriotism, and with the most ardent 
praises of libert/j would fatten and swell a foul lust of pow- 



23 

er and of avarice — and enrich themselves with tlie spoils of 
a victory, drawn from the life-blood of the republic ! 

That the people intend the public good, there can be no 
question — that they may err, is equally true. The freedom 
of enquiry which we enjoy, so favourable to ultimate truth, is 
calculated from its very liberty to expose us to delusions.. — 
As every virtue may become a vice, so every privilege we pos- 
sess may be abused and perverted, and become a source of 
social evil. It will be your duty to guide pubhc opinion a- 
right — to make it wiser, milder and more charitable. You 
■ should direct its currents rather than swim upon its surface. 
Do not fawn as a courtier — but with frankness and honest 
courage tell the monarch of his foibles — his errors — his mis- 
chievous propensities. Never inculcate the doctrine that the 
" Kins: can do no wrong'." And it he be a good and ^racious 
sovereign, intending the public weal, as we believe our sov- 
ereign to be, though you may incur by your honesty his 
temporary displeasure, you shall finally be rewarded with 
the choicest gifts in his power. Or, if you fail in this hope, 
defeat will be success. You will have the enjoyment whicli 
flows from the conscientious discharge of a high duty: and 
posterity will write an epitaph that shall do justice to the 
memory of a \irtae which could withstand popular ven- 
geance for the good of your country. The fame of Aristi- 
des has survived the disgrace of ostracism, and- been bright- 
ened by its infliction. The glory of Chatham has not been 
sullied because in Britain he was the friend of America. 

Resist, too, the very first approaches of despotism in any 
shape and under any pretence. Let your motto be '■'■obsta 
principiisy The liberties of this country will not be destroy- 
ed by the strong arm of violence or undisguised usurpation, 
until the people shall have become gradually accustomed to 
submit to the more dangerous, because more insidious, ad- 
vances of tyranny, under colour of authority and professions 
of patriotism. Corruption and public apathy will have pre- 
pared the victim, before the republic shall become a sacrifice 
to the ambition of a Caesar. Do not pass unheeded tlio si- 
lent filterings of the stream throush the embankments that 



24 

encircle and protect our liberties, lest the wide breach shall 
be made — and the resistless torrent shall sweep off in its fury 
the very fabric of oar institutions. Remember, also, that li- 
centiousness is the antipodes of liberty, of that well regulat- 
ed liberty which consists in obedience to just and equal laws 
imposed by ourselves. Just restriction is of the essence of 
liberty. The first and vital element of the social compact is 
obedience to a government of some kinder other. Something 
must be permanent to give safety to the system: and the fun- 
damental system, Vv'hen established, is not to be questioned or 
subverted, but from a deep and clear assurance diat it has- 
failed to answer the purposes of the social union. Our alle- 
giance is due to the constitution and the laws. Preserve in- 
violate that constitution, and maintain in its purity the su- 
premacy of the law. And while you should guard with 
sleepless jealousy the undoubted rights of the States, hold on 
toour H-Jonous Union as the anchor of our safety. Next to 
freedom itself, let the union of the States be the last plank to 
which we shall cling, in the shipwreck of our liberties. 

Preserve untarnished the honour of your country. Let 
her bright escutcheon never be stained with the foul blot of 
Punic faith. Whether in treaty with the most potent power 
on earth, or the defenceless tribe of the wilderness, scorn 
with indignation the man who would pollute, with the infa- 
my of national treachery, the proud flag of our Union. It 
has been as profoundly as beautifully said, that " private 
credit is wealth — ^public honour is security. The feather 
that adorns the royal bird, supports his flight ; strip him of 
his plumage, and you fix him to the earth." 

Cherish an exalted public spirit and a true pride of coun- 
try. Establish the feeling of a common country and a com- 
mon interest. Be American in your sympathies — your 
hopes — your ambition. Let the name of an " American cit- 
izen" be the proudest title to which you can aspire. Be an- 
imated by the example, and emulate the virtues — the eleva- 
ted integrity — the moderation — the prudence — the firmness 
and constancy — the vigilance and the disinterested public 
spirit, and warm and siricere patriotism of the illustrious 



25 

men who laid deep the foundations of our greatness: and, 
especially, of him, whom the very inlant has learned to re- 
vere as the '= father of his country" — of him who stands lirst 
and alone on the lists of fame — commanding the admiration 
of the wise of the earth, and the unbought applause of mil- 
lions — of him, the streams of whose renown, smino-inof from 
the pnre fountains of private integrity and public virtue, will 
continue to flow on, widening and deepening, down the chan- 
nels of time, till the whole earth shall be covered with the 
ocean of his glory ! 

And, above all, gentlemen, cherish and inculcate, as in- 
dispensable to the stability and perpetuity of our institutions, 
the civilizing, ennobling, restraining and purifying influences 
of Christianity. These only can avert from us the doom 
which has befallen all other Republics, that " were, but are 
not"— that have 

" Gone, glimmerino;, through the dream of things that were — 

" A school-boy's tale — tlie wonder of an hour." 

The influences of the Christian philosophy are the golden 
threads which, though not interwoven with the texture of 
our government, beautify, strengthen and support the fabric. 
May they never be severed by the hands of fate! This is 
the rock of our trust — the cloud by day, and pillar of fire by 
night, that shall continue to guide us onward forever in the 
career of happiness and true glory. 

In closing this Address, on a subject whose copious mate- 
rials have, I know, been so imperfectly treated, we would en- 
treat you, gentlemen, to carry with you, in every business of 
life, an abiding sense of the influence you possess, and the 
ohliijations it involves. Raise to yourselves an elevated 
standard of moral, social and political duty. Arm yourselves 
to the full fruition of the lofty privileges you enjoy. A glo- 
rious country calls you. A Constitution more perfect than 
the dreams of Plato — a Constitution in which every fancy 
of political perfection is a living reality, demands the devo- 
votion of your hearts and the exercise of your energies. 
Perform your duty to Him, who will judge you by your 

4 



26 

fruits; to your'couNTRY, that she may attain an eminence 
which shall defy the ravages of time; and to yourselves, 
that when a future Tacitus comes to write the history of 
your influence, he may record of your lives, " Quidquid 
amavitntis — quidquid mirati siwius, manet mansurwm- 
qiie est in animis hominnm — i7i eternitate ternporum — 
fama rerum.''^ > * «^^ - 



'c/:3 



] Vli^}^